Rolfes named commissioner, will resign from Senate

State Sen. Christine Rolfes is replacing Kitsap County Commissioner Rob Gelder and will serve the remainder of the term through the end of the year.

The Kitsap County Democrats announced Rolfe’s appointment in a Facebook post June 5. Upon her new appointment, Rolfes said she intends to resign from the state senate later this summer. “I’m still working on the details related to that,” she said. “I do not intend to hold both positions.”

Rolfes said in a phone interview that she is sad to be leaving the legislature, but her favorite part of that job has been working with local people and issues. The new job will connect her even more “to the people I really care about.”

Plus, she will be able to live at home “rather than abandoning my family every winter,” she said. Rolfes and her husband Leonard live in a historic farmhouse on BI.

The other two finalists for county commissioner were Brynn Felix and Greg Nance. Felix is general counsel for Peninsula Community Health Services, and Nance is CEO of Run Far Foundation, a nonprofit that builds after-school running clubs to help young people find purpose, have fun and stay healthy through community service.

Rolfes is currently state senator for the 23rd District that runs from Bainbridge Island to part of Bremerton. She has been elected six times to the position. She is chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and has helped guide the legislature to adopt four-year balanced budgets without a special session for five-straight years, which had not been done since the 1800s.

A former Bainbridge Island councilmember, she has worked for over two decades to protect open spaces; salmon habitat; expand workforce training and childcare opportunities; and support the military, affordable housing and health care.

Rolfes has worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia.

The District 1 commissioner is commonly referred to as the north end commissioner. The district covers the area of the Kitsap Peninsula north of Silverdale. BI (population 23,950) and Poulsbo (pop. 10,510) are the two incorporated cities within North Kitsap. Outside of those cities approximately 53,000 reside in NK.

Rolfes joins District 2 Commissioner Charlotte Garrido and District 3 Commissioner Katie Walters on the board. They selected her from the final three. The commission sets policy; manages the county’s $548 million budget; oversees the Public Works, Parks, Community Development and Human Services departments; and serves on multiple boards of other agencies such as the Kitsap Public Health District, Housing Kitsap and Kitsap Transit.

Gelder, who served for 12 years, has left to take a job in Thurston County as assistant county manager.

Kitsap commissioners make about $154,000 a year, while state senators make about $100,000 a year less as they are paid only when the legislature is in session.

Among the initial nominees from which the Kitsap County Democrats picked the final three were Bainbridge Island City Councilmembers Joe Deets and Clarence Moriwaki.